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June 17, 2019

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Businesses targeted in new HSE dust inspections

From today, firms across Great Britain are to be targeted in a new series of inspections focusing on dust control by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

dust particlesThe HSE has announced that it will be concentrating on industries such as construction, woodworking and food manufacturing where occupational lung diseases, including in some cases occupational cancers, are more common. The news comes on the back of a successful campaign conducted in October last year when construction firms were the focus.

Inspectors will be looking to see what measures have been put in place to protect workers’ lungs from the likes of asbestos, silica, wood and flour dust. Employers and employees will be required to provide evidence of knowing the risks and planning their work and using the right controls.

HSE’s chief medical officer, Professor David Fishwick said: “Exposure to asbestos, silica, wood, flour and other dust can have life-changing consequences.

“Each year work-related lung diseases linked to past exposures are estimated to kill 12,000 workers across Great Britain. In many cases these diseases take a long time to develop after exposure, so the damage done may not be immediately obvious. Others, such as occupational asthma and acute silicosis, can occur more quickly.

“These conditions can and do have a significant impact on both the individuals affected and those closest to them, so it is imperative that workers take the necessary precautions to protect their lungs.”

Sarah Jardine, HSE’s chief inspector of construction added: “We are carrying out this series of inspections to ensure businesses are fulfilling their legal duties to protect workers from harm. This includes controlling the levels of dust in workplaces.

“We want to ensure employers and their workers are aware of the risks associated with any task that produces dust. Such work needs to be properly planned and use the right controls, such as water suppression, extraction and masks.”

How can you prepare?

Mary Cameron, Occupational Hygiene Team Leader at SOCOTEC, said: “There is a wide range of guidance available to employers on how to keep their workforce healthy and to employees on how to understand their risk and work in a way which prevents or minimises exposure.

“Guidance is available within the COSHH Regulations, the HSE website, as well as by the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) Breathe Freely campaign, which is aimed at controlling exposures to prevent occupational lung disease in construction.

“The BOHS Breathe Freely campaign has produced a HI (Health in Industry) standard management tool to help managers prevent and control employees’ exposures to the risks from construction work that cause ill health and disease.”

SOCOTEC says that ensuring health risks are properly recognised, evaluated, and controlled can be achieved by:

  • Applying leadership and commitment
  • Undertaking a risk assessment
  • Ensuring that workers are competent and trained
  • Planning and designing processes to eliminate or minimise risk to health
  • Adopting the most effective and appropriate exposure controls
  • Establishing a management programme to ensure that the effectiveness of controls are maintained
  • Investigating any potential workplace ill health via exposure monitoring and health surveillance.

For more information on the inspections and to download the free #DustBuster selfie cards visit: and follow the campaign on Twitter at @H_S_E, on Facebook @SaferSites. You can also join the conversation at #WorkRight.

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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